Sunday, February 28, 2010

Fulham 0 - 0 at Sunderland

Going into this match Fulham had only 1 win on the road this season. That was in the first game of the season against Portsmouth. They left the Stadium of Light with only one point today. Fulham and Sunderland played to a scoreless draw.

There was good news for Fulham fans as the game began. Bobby Zamora was in the starting lineup. He picked up an Achilles injury during the last Europa League match. The half was more controlled by Sunderland. However, both sides had a few decent chances to score.

Sunderland started the first 5 minutes of the match with good pressure in the Fulham half. It was though Fulham who had the first good chance. In the 6th minute Gera takes a good shot that goes wide of the net. In the 26th minute Simon Davies passes a nice ball to Bobby Zamora who heads it wide.

The Sunderland chances started with a Jones strike that went high over the net. In the 39th minute a free kick for Sunderland was taken by Darren Bent. His shot though was saved by Schwarzer. Kenwyne Jones actually had 2 more decent chances as Sunderland continued the pressure late into the half. The last chance for Fulham in the 44th minute was a free kick by Nicky Shorey. It was easily handled.

The half was physical with Zoltan Gera getting knocked around twice. Fulham and Sunderland ended the half 0 -0. To win the game we would have to see more out of Roy Hogdson's team in the second half.

The second half started with more pressure from Fulham. Early on a Simon Davies corner kick goes harmlessly in the box as there is a foul by Hangeland. Sunderland had the next 2 chances. In the 56th minute a nice shot by Alan Hutton is saved by Schwarzer. This was followed up in the 58th minute by a shot by Darren Bent which went wide of the net.

Shortly before that last shot Fulham's first change came when Danny Murphy was replaced by Jonathan Greening. In the 69th minute a beautiful left footed shot by Damien Duff just went wide. This was probably Fulham's best chance of the match. In the 73rd minute Simon Davies made a nice run but his shot was easily saved by Craig Gordon.

The end of the game saw a few more chances for Sunderland. In the 74th minute off of a long ball, a shot by Zenden hits side of the net. In the 80th minute a cross by Zenden goes right to Alan Hutton but again hits the side of the net. One of the best chances for Sunderland came in the 86th minute. Frazier Campbell's right footed shot in the center of the box goes high over the net. The final chance for Sunderland came in the 88th minute with a nice pass from Benjani that just missed Darren Bent.

The only other change for Fulham came late in the game with David Elm coming in for Bobby Zamora. Unfortunately for Fulham, Elm was not effective in Zamora's place. Bobby played decent but did not get any real good chances today.

Both teams deserved a well earned point. I thought it was a pretty even game with a slight edge to Sunderland. The game ended as it started 0 -0 from the Stadium of Light. Now it is time to move on to the F A Cup next week against Tottenham at Craven Cottage.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

The Importance of Roy Hogdson to Fulham

You need talented players to build your team. Unless you have someone to guide that talent it will go nowhere. Roy Hogdson took over a squad that 2 years ago that was fighting relegation to the Championship. To the present he has taken a team that is in the final 16 of the Europa League. To me this is an incredible accomplishment and I don't think he is getting the credit he deserves.

The big question is how did Hogdson accomplish this feat in 2 years? To me it all starts on defense. In American football if you have a strong defense you pretty much can be competitive in all of your games. I have a feeling that football in the EPL you can have a similar result with a strong defense. Hogdson brought in players like Brede Hangeland, John Pantsil, and Mark Schwarzer. Hangeland came in during the January transfer window of his first season. John Pantsil and Mark Schwarzer came in the following summer. Fulham now had 2 really good defenders and a top notch goalkeeper in Schwarzer. Defense is the first quality he brought to Fulham.

Hogdson also brought a work ethic and discipline that is shown every week on the pitch. His team is always in position and does not tend to beat themselves. The team keeps it shape which is difficult for their opponents to break down. This is a quality I admire. You are going to have to beat Fulham. They will not do it for you.

Roy Hogdson has also been able to get everything he can out of the talent he has at his disposal. Fulham do not have an unlimited budget like a team in the big four. He needs to find good players on a limited budget. For example, he got Mark Schwarzer for next to nothing. He also bought players like Bobby Zamora and Brede Hangeland. These players again were accomplished players but they weren't superstars at the time. Instead of acquiring talent Roy was building a team that is disciplined, plays a great defense and has an incredible work ethic.

As a fan all you can ask is that your club is put in position every week to win. Roy Hogdson has done this since January 2008. It blows me away how the media looks at Fulham. I listen to the commentary and I read the articles in the media. Just like the New England Patriots the media does not get it. They just see the names on the back of the jerseys. Someone needs to put those names in position to win and Hogdson does this week after week. It is a combination of the right players and the right manager.

How else would you explain how Fulham were able to beat Shakhtar Donetsk at Craven Cottage and then tie this team in the Ukraine. Shakhtar are more talented and play "beautiful football". Where did that get them in the end? Fulham moved on and Shakhtar are out. Shakhtar could not break down Fulham no matter how hard they tried. All Fulham did was take advantage of an opening when it was there. The free kick from Duff and headed in by Hangeland in the last game just shows me what Fulham is all about. They again won on defense, discipline and work ethic.

The importance of Roy Hogdson to Fulham to me is huge. Hogdson picks the players to play, puts them in position to succeed and just watches them play hard. If I were Chairman, Roy Hogdson would be manager for as long as he wants. I think the future is bright for Fulham Football Club. In my humble opinion Roy Hogdson has a great deal to do with it.

Friday, February 26, 2010

My 5 Keys to Victory for Fulham at Sunderland

There is no rest for Fulham this weekend. They will be travelling to the Stadium of Light to face Sunderland on Sunday. The kickoff for the match is 3PM UK time and 10AM EST. The game will actually be shown on tape delay on Fox Soccer Soccer Channel in the United States at noon EST. Sunderland currently sit 14th in the League with 26 points. Fulham are currently 9th with 37 points.

Roy Hogdson and Fulham need to figure out a way to get another away win. Sunderland will again be desperate for a win as they want to get as far away from the relegation zone as possible. The question is what kind of shape and lineup will be on display for Fulham on Sunday? Below I will have my "5 keys to victory for Fulham."

1. Bobby Zamora is doubtful for the match so who will step up to take his place at striker. Zamora picked up an Achilles injury in the Europa League match. Who will Roy use at striker. I am hoping David Elm will get a shot at striker. To me he deserves another chance to show his ability. He seems to have a good touch up front. This striker position will be key on Sunday.

2. The return of Nicky Shorey is important for the defense. As I stated prior I think Nicky Shorey has been impressive on defense. Stephen Kelly was very good in the last match. This is nothing against Kelly. Shorey just gives Fulham a defender who can push the ball up better and is more natural at the position.

3. Fulham desperately need to score the first goal. Fulham have struggled so much on the road I think they need to play from ahead the majority of the match. If they can get off to a fast start they can dictate the game to Sunderland. Again, they are playing a desperate side right now. Zoltan Gera has been very good lately. I would not be surprised to see him score a goal early in the match.

4. Hogdson should use some fresh legs in this match. After a grueling match in the Ukraine a key will be how Hogdson uses his lineup. I already stated I think David Elm and Nicky Shorey should start. At some point during the match it might be good to use Jonathan Greening and Bjorn Helge Riise in midfield. Players like Danny Murphy and Dickson Etuhu might need some rest. They have worked very hard lately. I also would not be against Stephen Kelly coming in to spell someone on defense.

5. It is important to push the ball up to the strikers. Fulham always seem to be at their best when the defenders are pushing the ball up the pitch. Fulham need to dictate the pace of the match. Nicky Shorey has been great so far in moving the ball up. Fulham need to play like they are at Craven Cottage which is more aggressive.

Fulham are coming off of a grueling schedule lately. Sunderland on the road is game they need to win. If they want to move higher up the table Fulham need to win these games on the road. Let's hope our good form continues on Sunday.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Fulham 1 - 1 at Shakhtar Donetsk and Move on in Europa League

This was a stunning result in the Ukraine. Fulham and Shakhtar end the game 1 - 1. More important though Fulham move on in the Europa League with an aggregate difference of 3 - 2. This tie could go down as one of the most important ties in Fulham's recent history. They now move on to the final 16.

Shakhtar controlled the majority of the match. Shakhtar had 17 corners and were constantly in the Fulham half. The difference was the brilliant defense of Fulham. Yes, that includes Stephen Kelly who played great. The combination of Hangeland, Baird, Hughes, and Kelly stopped Shakhtar Donetsk time after time. This was though a complete team effort.

The first half started pretty much with complete domination by Shakhtar Donetsk. They were constantly in the Fulham half and were passing the ball beautifully. The barrage started right from the 1st minute with a shot by Luiz Adriano.

In the 3rd minute a strike by Willian was tipped over the net by Mark Schwarzer. This was actually a tremendous save by Mark Schwarzer. Shakhtar were constantly moving forward. In the 14th minute Fernandinho had a nice shot that was saved by Mark Schwarzer. On top of the shots I can't even tell you how many corner kicks there were for Shakhtar. In the 26th minute Willian again missed a close shot that went wide. To Fulham's credit they were playing tremendous defense and they were well organized.

Fulham finally got the ball in the Shakhtar half. In the 33rd minute off of a set piece Brede Hangeland headed the ball past Andriy Pyatov. The ball was sent into the box beautifully by Damien Duff. Fulham now lead 1 - 0 and 3 - 1 on aggregate.

Shakhtar continued to control the ball until halftime. The home fans must have been shocked with the score. At the half Fulham lead 1 - 0.

The second half opened up similar to the first half. However, Fulham were beginning to control more of the ball in the second half. The first chance for Shakhtar came in the 52nd minute. Adriano's header went right to Mark Schwarzer. Shakhtar continued the pressure with Costa's shot in the 62nd minute, and then in the 68th minute a shot by Rakitskiy.

The dramatic ending to this match started in the 69th minute. A run by Costa just next to the net led to a beautiful pass to Jadson who put his shot by Mark Shwarzer. Now the crowd was really going crazy. Could Fulham hold on and go ahead in the Europa League? With a little over 20 minutes and stoppage time left Fulham led in aggregate 3 -2.

Shakhtar kept pressing forward which was leading to a few openings for Fulham to counter. Chris Baird in the 89th minute had a shot that went high off of a free kick. Then, in the 89th minute Zoltan Gera got loose on a counter and was one one on with goalkeeper. His shot went wide of the net.

We then go into stoppage time which was four minutes. Rakitskiy had another shot, but it was saved by Schwarzer. Fulham were able to eat up a good amount of the stoppage time by controlling the ball. However, just before the game ended Captain Danny Murphy was given a red card for a dangerous tackle. Fulham were playing a man down for about a minute. Then the nicest noise I have heard all season came out. The referee blew his whistle and Fulham tied 1 - 1. More important they move ahead in Europe on aggregate 3 -2.

I never thought a tie could be so sweet. Again, this was an incredibly important result for Fulham. The team and Roy Hogdson deserve so much credit for these 2 matches against Shakhtar Donetsk. Sometimes the most talented team doesn't win. Sometimes the better team wins.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

My 5 Keys to Victory for Fulham at Shakhtar Donetsk

The day of reckoning is tomorrow. Fulham play at Shakhtar Donetsk in the Final 32 of the Europa League. The game is at 6PM UK Time and 1PM EST. Fulham hold on to a slim lead in the competition. There are several questions going into this match. What starting lineup will Roy Hogdson go with? Will they play defensive and protect the slim lead? How will the referees effect this match? Which style of football will dominate? All of these questions and more will be answered after the game. Below are my 5 keys to victory for Fulham.

1. Stephen Kelly has to be at this best in this match on defense. I have been hard on him. However, he has looked out of place in several matches. Was he beat on the Luiz Adriano goal in the first match? With the attacking style of Shakhtar Donetsk, for Fulham to win he is going to have to be at his best. I will be watching Stephen Kelly.

2. Fulham can't afford to sit on the lead. Fulham hold a narrow 2 -1 lead going into the match. They cannot afford to sit back and let this team attack the entire game. It is imperative that the ball is pushed up to Bobby Zamora and Zoltan Gera. They need to attack and score. If they do decide to sit back I believe this is a recipe for disaster. Shakhtar have too much talent.

3. Fulham need to dictate their style of football on Shakhtar Donetsk. Shakhtar play a more wide open attacking football. Some could call it a "beautiful style" of football. Fulham need to play their physical brand of football. They need to force their will on Shakhtar. Players like Bobby Zamora and Dickson Etuhu can set that tone.

4. Fulham need to be aware of how the referees are calling the match. Unfortunately, the referees I believe will play a major part in this match. Fulham need to play how the match is being called. If the officials are letting them be physical they need to take that physicality as far as they can. If they are calling it close they need to be careful with their physical play. Physical players like Dickson Etuhu and Bobby Zamora have to be careful. Fulham don't need anymore red cards that effected the last Roma match.

5. Mark Schwarzer needs to have an exceptional game in net. I think he will be under constant pressure. He is a great goalkeeper. I have faith that he will be on his game.

I am sure there are other keys for the match but these 5 stand out to me. Shakhtar Donetsk are a very impressive team. This game will be a tough challenge for Roy Hogdson. If Fulham can control the game they have a chance. Let's hope for the best.

Former New England Patriot Player Mosi Totupu dies at 54

I just saw this article on regarding Mosi Tatupu. Former New England Patriot player Mosi Tatupi died at the age of 54 According to per the Honolulu Star Bulletin "the cause of death is currently not known." also reports that Tatupu "reportedly had been suffering from high blood pressure and other health issues."

I have been a fan of the New England Patriots since 1975. I was a huge fan of Mosi, and today is a very sad day. Mosi was not just a running back he was a true football player. He did run the ball, but he was a great blocker. He was also a special teams player. He is the type of player that gave you everything he had. He even had his own fan club called "Mosi's Mooses." When I think of players from the 80's Mosi's name comes up near the top.

Mosi after his playing days still lived Massachusetts. He was the running backs coach for Curry College. His son Lofa Tatupu currently plays for the Seattle Seahawks. My heart goes out to him and the rest of the Tatupu family.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Why would Bobby Zamora leave Fulham this summer?

Why would Bobby Zamora leave Fulham this Summer? This is the question I am pondering today. I was on one of my favorite sites today I noticed one of the posts was regarding Bobby Zamora. The post on was entitled " Who are we going to lose Zamora to in the Summer".

My first thought that came to my mind was why? I read the reasons in the comments behind the original post. The reasons I was reading from posters ranged from "Bobby Zamora doesn't like it here" to Fulham is a "small club".

The first reason "Bobby Zamora doesn't like it here" is an interesting question. I have seen some of the gestures he has made after scoring goals. Is that gesture meant for the fans or is it meant for his critics? I haven't read or seen anywhere that he is unhappy at Fulham. If he was so unhappy why did he want to stay at Fulham rather than go to Hull?

The second reason I read was Fulham could lose him this summer because they are a "small club". This reason to me is the real argument. In past the larger clubs would take the best players from the smaller clubs over the summer. They can offer more money and possibly European football. I can see why many people would automatically think Bobby Zamora will likely be gone this summer. A team in the "big four" or like Manchester City can cherry pick and get whoever they want.

I personally think he will stay this summer. First, he is under contract with Fulham. He is not free to just walk. Second, if he is happy with the club and flourishing in this system why would he want to leave? He is a key person in the club and scoring goals at a great pace. Third, if the club values him like I think they do, they should do everything they can to make sure he stays. They might be a "small club," but if the desire of the player is to stay and the team wants him to stay I think combined sides can make it happen. I would hope that Fulham would try to offer him a new contract to ward off new bidders this summer.

The "Brede Hangeland" saga this summer is a perfect example of what I just described. Every day from say June until the transfer window closed it seemed I read somewhere that he would be leaving to a bigger club. Arsenal was the club mentioned the most in regards to Brede Hangeland. Brede made it public he wanted to stay, but it was obvious he was looking for a better contract from Fulham. This saga continued the whole summer. Even when Hangeland went public with his desire to stay the media still kept saying he was in "play" with another team. What happened in the end? Brede Hangeland signed a new contract with Fulham and stayed with the team. There was a desire by both sides to make it happen.

In my opinion as long as there is a desire for both sides to continue to work together Bobby Zamora will continue to be a Fulham player.

New England Patriots putting in new field turf at Gillette Stadium

When I read the press release from the New England Patriots I was a little surprised. From a press release yesterday on there will be a new field turf being placed down on Gillette Stadium. According to the press release from it states " The New England Patriots, the New England Revolution, and FieldTurf have jointly announced that Gillette Stadium will be resurfaced with FieldTurf Duraspine Pro, the new standard in artificial turf and the latest turf innovation from FieldTurf."

According to the press release, the field will be ready for The New England Revolution opener against Toronto FC on April 10th. The New England Patriots started using FieldTurf shortly after the New York Jets game in the 2006 season. I think I read awhile back that the turf had a shelf life of 10 years.

To be honest I am glad the New England Patriots are changing the turf. I actually hope this surface is more like real grass than what they currently have. I think the turf right now is actually too fast of a surface and reminds me of playing in a dome. What gives me hope about the surface is information from the press release. The press release states "the field is designed with international soccer in mind and is expected to meet and exceed the tenets of FIFA's 2 - star rating system."

Also, I wanted to give a quick update on the Vince Wilfork situation. He has been given the "franchise tag" by the New England Patriots. According to a press release by the New England Patriots, the organization placed the franchise tag on Wilfork and will continue to work on a long term deal.

Monday, February 22, 2010

10 things I think about Fulham Football Club this week

Each week I will summarize my thoughts on the team . I will give you my "10 things I think." The past week was a huge success for Fulham. They beat Shakhtar Donetsk on Thursday at Craven Cottage. They followed up with a victory on Sunday against Birmingham City. Roy Hodgson and the Cottagers have their work cut out for them to top last week.

1. I think Shakhtar Donetsk's players and coaches might have come into Craven Cottage a little over confident. They did start off a little slow. They are the defending UEFA Cup Champions. Fulham were fortunate to get an early goal on the Ukranian team. Shortly after the first 3 minutes Shakhtar controlled the rest of the first half. Going into the second half the game was tied 1 - 1. It took a great goal by Bobby Zamora early in the second half to gain control back to Fulham . I have a feeling Shakhtar will not be over confident this Thursday.

2. I think not having Nicky Shorey and Stefano Okaka available for the Europa League makes it much harder on Fulham to advance. Nicky Shorey has been very solid on defense. Stephen Kelly in my opinion has been below average. I am a little nervous seeing him out there in the Ukraine. Stefano Okaka not being available as a striker just hurts the bench and adjustments if needed. I think Stefano also needs more action. It is too bad these 2 players are not available.

3. I think even if Fulham do not advance the Europa League their play in the league is a success. I keep going back to 2 years ago. Look at how far Fulham have come. It seems like yesterday the Cottagers were fighting just to stay in the EPL. Roy Hogdson has done such a great job in a little over 2 years.

4. I think I actually miss John Pantsil. Until he got hurt in the Chelsea game he was holding his own with Drogba. He also could push the ball up and get everyone moving forward. Chris Baird has done a nice job except for his own goal yesterday. You could argue if Pantsil doesn't get hurt they might have pulled that game out against Chelsea.

5. I think there is a chance that Clint Dempsey might be coming back sooner than later. I keep reading reports that he might be coming back as early as next month. I find that hard to believe. If he could come back for the last 4 - 6 games to me that would be a huge bonus.

6. I think Alex MacLeish is a class act. I read his comments after the Birmingham City match. He was very gracious after the loss. These are quotes from an article on called "From the other Side" . McLeish stated " We lost because of 2 pieces of inspiration from Fulham. The finishes were brilliant" he said. "That is the difference in quality that we need to aspire to." McLeish also discussed one of the Fulham strikers. He stated " And Bobby Zamora was the big difference. Today, My players had a hard games against one of the best strikers in the league."

7. I think Fulham can conquer America. I wrote about this last week. If you are interested please check out that entry. Fulham I think are the type of team that could be a huge draw in the States. America loves an underdog. I think Fulham fit that bill.

8. I think it is still possible to get into 7th position by the end of the year. I know it is a longshot but you never know. Aston Villa currently have 45 points in 7th position. That is 8 points ahead of Fulham. We would have to go on an incredible run including winning on the road. I know I am probably just dreaming.

9. I think it will take an incredible effort to move on in the Europa League. Shakhtar Donetsk look "scary good". If we get a good result on Thursday it would be incredible. This team has so much quality. I am sorry if I can't be more optimistic.

10. Bobby Zamora I think should be playing for England in the World Cup. I think his play over this year speaks for itself. I don't think I need to say anymore about this subject.

It was a great week for Fulham. I can't wait for Thursday.

10 Things I think about the New England Patriots this week

In tribute to Peter King of who does an entry in his column each week " 10 things I think I think" I will do my own version each week. Since it is officially the off season you wouldn't think there would be much to talk about regarding the New England Patriots. I couldn't be more wrong.

1. I think Randy Moss is wrong regarding that the New England Patriots " really don't pay". He had several comments which were reported by Chris Gasper of the Boston Globe. I have talked about this in a prior entry. First of all they gave Randy Moss a very nice 3 year deal after the 2007 season. They also gave very good contracts to Tom Brady, Adalius Thomas, Richard Seymour, and Ty Warren. Over the years the Pats have paid close to the cap. To me the perception is not the reality.

2. I think Willie McGinest is right about the Vince Wilfork situation. On, McGinest said "pay the man". He was referring to that he thinks the New England Patriots need to pay Wilfork. I agree with him. However, if Vince is looking for an "Albert Haynsworth deal" than I would understand if they don't come to terms.

3. I think if the New England Patriots can't come to terms with Vince Wilfork they need to franchise him and then trade him. The franchise deadline is coming up. If the New England Patriots and Vince Wilfork cannot come to terms soon the Pats need to do the right thing. Wilfork has played out his 6 year deal. You can get something for him in a trade. Both sides would then win in this situation.

4. I think the New England Patriots need to sign their restricted players first. Logan Mankins and Stephen Gostkowski are restricted players. These players are worth whatever the market value is for there services. They should try to come to terms with these players now. We have already seen what has happened with the Vince Wilfork situation. I think they need to be proactive much more with their own players.

5. I think signing Leigh Bodden is extremely important. Leigh's play was very solid last year. He is not Asante Samuel but he definitely got the job done. He knows the system and that is very important. Plus I have been reading online that he might want to come back to the Pats. There is no salary cap so they can afford to pay their own players. Please don't let him hit the free agency market. The Pats need to this now.

6. I think Tom Brady will play until he is 40 with the New England Patriots. There has been speculation last year in the media how long Tom Brady will play. I have heard him at least a few times say on "Dennis and Callahan" that he wanted to play another 10 years. Those statements were made about 3 years ago. I also think he will be with the Pats until his career is over. I can't imagine the Patriots not making sure he is Patriot for his entire career. It would be a very bad business move for the Kraft's to let him go somewhere else.

7. I think The New England Patriots need coordinators. In my opinion having no coordinators is ridiculous. Bill Belichick is going to be spreading himself too thin. He needs coordinators he can trust and be able to delegate those responsibilities to. With no coordinators how can the greatest coach in football be at his best?

8. I think the New England Patriots need to bring in veteran "character guys" on defense. Keith Bulluck and Kyle Vanden bosch are both available.They are veterans who can add leadership and can still play. If you sign them for a year you can buy time while you groom their replacements through the draft.

9. I think there is no way The New England Patriots are going after Julius Peppers. He is going to be too expensive and the Pats have too many of there own players they need to take care of.

10. I think the New England Patriots need to trade for Deion Branch. I have mentioned this in a prior entry. To me if he is healthy he is a wonderful number 2 or number 3 receiver. He already knows the system and could be a great stop gap until Wes Welker comes back.

These are just my opinions and I am sticking to them.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Bobby Zamora does it again! Fulham win 2 -1

Bobby Zamora does it again with a late goal in the 90th minute. He hit a screaming shot that went past Joe Hart in the top of the net. Fulham get a dramatic victory over Birmingham City 2 -1. With the win Fulham are now at 37 points. That is the same total that Birmingham City currently have as well.

The game today did not start off very well for Fulham. In the 3rd minute Chris Baird heads the ball into Fulham's net past Mark Schwarzer. Birmingham take an early lead of 1 - 0. To be honest this was the only pressure Mark Schwarzer was under in the first half. Obviously the early goal started the tempo in Birmingham's favor.

Shortly after the own goal by Baird, Fulham started to control the game with some nice passing. However a pattern was showing itself during the first half. The defense of Birmingham City was impressive. They kept moving Fulham back farther.

In the 17th minute Brede Hangeland headed a ball over the net off of a corner kick. Shortly after that try Damien Duff took a long strike again that goes over the net. There is no question that Fulham were controlling the play but they could not get past the defense of Birmingham City. There always seemed to be a blue shirt defending in passing lanes. Scott Dan and Stephen Carr did a very nice job defending.

Later in the half Zoltan Gera made a couple of nice moves. He flicked a ball right to Simon Davies who's header could not get past Joe Hart. Also, Gera had a good run that sent a pass to Bobby Zamora in the box. Unfortunately for Fulham, Zamora couldn't quite get to the pass. This was a frustrating half of football to watch. Even though Fulham had the majority of the ball they trailed 1 - 0 at the half.

The second half began with Fulham trailing 1 - 0. Fulham started to increase the pressure and had a few chances in the beginning of the second half. Bobby Zamora has a left footed strike in the 53rd minute that went right to the goalkeeper. In the 57 minute Damien Duff's cross is again handled by Joe Hart.

Duff would make up for the last opportunity. In the 59th minute Damien Duff scores a goal right off the inside post and the game is tied 1-1. At this point with the game tied the pace changed as both teams had a chance to win.

Birmingham City increased their pressure and started to control more of the ball. James McFadden in the 64th minute had a strike that went right to Schwarzer. His next chance almost put Birmingham City ahead. McFadden had a beautiful strike that hit the crossbar. Mark Schwarzer might have tipped the ball to save it.

The game looked like it would end in a tie. As mentioned prior off of a free kick Bobby Zamora gave Fulham the victory. This was a pretty even game. I came away impressed by Birmingham City. They were excellent on defense and were always around a Fulham attacker.
Fulham should be very happy with this win. No one should be happier than Chris Baird who gave up the own goal in the 3rd minute of the match. Bobby Zamora completely bailed him out. If I was the England Coach I would put Bobby Zamora on my squad. He is playing with tremendous confidence.

Now it is on to the Ukraine. I wonder if Shakhtar Donetsk's manager was watching this match? I would think he must have seen it. Fulham should come into this match with confidence after this late victory. It should be a great game Thursday night.

Did Randy Moss show his true colors regarding the New England Patriots?

It was late last night and I was done watching the Olympics. I turned on Comcast Sports Net New England. On their show Comcast Sports Net Central I saw some remarks Randy Moss had made at a charity event. These comments infuriated me as a fan. I think the Kraft's and the New England Patriots Management will not be happy with their number 1 receiver. Before I wrote about his subject I wanted to read more on exactly what Moss had said.

I got up this morning and read Chris Gasper's article on that had quotes and details of Moss's comments. From the Chris Gasper article entitled " Moss anticipates out pattern after this year" the writer mentions the comments from Randy Moss at a Charity Event in Jupiter Florida. The comments were about his contract situation and how he believes the New England Patriots will not extend him a new contract.

Here is the one of the quotes from Randy Moss from the Chris Gasper article in Moss stated "It's the business of it man. You've got to understand the business of football," Moss said." There is not bad blood. There is no animosity on my side or their side. I think it is just the nature of the business of the NFL. You know the Patriots don't really pay, so when I got my second contract from them that was a blessing in disguise. I understand the business. I don't think they are going to re-sign me back. I'm not mad. I'm not bitter. It's just the way things are in the NFL, so like I said after this year I'll be looking for a new team."

This is a fantastic article by Chris Gasper. The article goes in to more details on his thoughts on the New England Patriots organization. Please read it if you get a chance.

My first thought is Randy Moss is finally showing his true colors. To be calling out the organization that the " Pats don't really pay" is a shot at the Kraft's and the entire organization. They have paid this player a tremendous amount of money. For me these comments are disrespectful.

Randy Moss to me was the beginning of the end of the dynasty as we knew it. The 2007 season and all of its records means nothing to me. It was a change of philosophy when they brought in Randy Moss. No matter how you break it down Randy Moss showed everyone he is a "me" player not a "team player". The team in 2007 became more about scoring than the fundamental of "team "that built those 3 championships.

If I were the Kraft's I would trade him now. You don't want someone on your team that says those words about the organization. Please trade for Deion Branch. If you have read his comments in a prior entry he seems to have fond memories of the organization and might want to come back.

For the New England Patriots to get back to greatness they need to bring the "character guys" back like Deion Branch. It is time for the "me" guys like Randy Moss and Adalius Thomas to go.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Birmingham City up next for Fulham

Fulham's next opponent is Birmingham City at Craven Cottage on Sunday. The game takes place at 3PM UK Time and 10AM EST. Birmingham City come in to Craven Cottage currently in 9th position with 37 points. Fulham are 3 points behind in 10th place with 34 points. This is an important game for Fulham. With their current road record they need to win as many home games as possible. Hopefully they will take some momentum from last Thursday's win against Shakhtar Donetsk and have a good showing.

The last match between the teams took place on November 21st. Birmingham City won the game 1 - 0 at St. Andrews. The winning goal came from Lee Bowyer. I will be curious to see who Roy Hogdson has in the starting team for this re-match.

Hogdson has a few more players available for this match than he had on Thursday. Stefano Okaka and Nicky Shorey were both cup-tied and could not play. These players will both be available on Sunday. There is also a chance that Paul Konchesky could be available on the bench. He would be a huge boost for Fulham on defense. To be honest I am hoping Nicky Shorey will be in the starting lineup. Since his loan deal I think he has filled in great on defense. Stephen Kelly has been a little shaky at best on defense. I am hoping for a big win on Sunday for the Cottagers.

"Lost in translation" after Fulham loss by Shakhtar Donetsk Manager?

What is great about writing is I can get different opinions on my entries. I had the pleasure of being on the website. This is a great site and I recommend it highly for all fans of the club. I decided to put my entry " Sour Grapes and Disrespect from Shakhtar Donetsk Manager after loss to Fulham" on their messageboard. I was curious how this entry would be received by the fans of Fulham. What I have learned from this entry is that their could be different perspectives on the comments by the Shakhtar manager. I welcome different opinions on everything I write that involves Roy Hogdson's team and their competition.

Some of the comments I was reading involved "lost in translation." Some of the members were saying in their comments that since the manager speaks another language that his comments from the translator could have been " lost in the translation." This is a possibility that could be true. When you are commenting about an event with 2 different languages the content could be perceived in 2 different ways. However, the comments are pretty consistent from what I have read on before the match by the press office of Shakhtar Donetsk. Again all of these comments are open to interpretation. Don't get me wrong as I mentioned in a prior post, Shakhtar's manager had some complimentary comments about Roy Hogdson's Cottagers. Also, to be fair in a prior article the press office on the Shakhtar official website had some nice things to say about Bobby Zamora as well.

Some other opinions I read by members involved that the comments were mild into comparison to Alex Ferguson, Jose Mourihno, and Arsegne Wenger. I can definitely see this perspective on the subject. My counter to this opinion is that Roy Hogdson is far more gracious in defeat than those 3 managers. I am also a fan of the New England Patriots. I am used to Bill Belichick blaming himself and his coaching staff for a loss. He would never say " we shouldn't have lost the game." He would tell the media after the loss that the New England Patriots need to make the proper corrections before the next game.

I guess I was hoping the Shakhtar manager to be more humble after the match. Fulham have come so far in the last 2 years I was just expecting something different from the Shakhtar manager. What I have learned is that there are different ways to look at comments. I stick by my comments and still believe that the Shakhtar manager was being arrogant. I am open to the idea that this is my opinion and there are other opinions on the subject. I thank the members of and plan to return to the site often. We all have different opinions on Roy Hogdson's team. What is great though in the end we all support the Cottagers.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Sour Grapes and Disrespect from Shakhtar Donetsk manager after loss to Fulham

After waking up this morning I was feeling pretty good about the Fulham victory last night. My mood changed when I read the comments by Shakhtar Donetsk manager Mircea Lucescu. In the article from the official website entitled " From the other Side" Lucescu had some interesting comments about the game. In my opinion these comments come off as very arrogant and disrespectful to Roy Hogdson's Fulham team.

According to the article Mircea Lucescu stated" It is a good thing we've got a second leg so we'll still have a chance," the Shakhtar manager explained." We've lost a game that we shouldn't have lost. A lack of practice coming into the game saw us concede the first goal. After that we had the game under control." This statement alone is complete sour grapes from the manager of an opposing team. His team lost the game and Fulham won it period. This manager should be more gracious in defeat and give more credit to Fulham and Roy Hogdson.

The Shakhtar manager then seemed to complain about the referees I believe. According to article Mircea Lucescu stated " We hope the referees in Donetsk will facilitate a beautiful game and not what happened today, I'm not judging the referee - he had his own method of judgement which facilitated more physical football." This manager has the right to his opinion. I personally don't think this game was anymore physical than I see every week. If they think Bobby Zamora and his teammates are too physical than they should prepare better for the second leg. I have a feeling they are going to see the same style of play from Fulham.

To be fair Lucescu did say nice things about Fulham's defense and how well organized the team was last night. He did congratulate Fulham on its victory, but what he said right after that sounded like a "backhanded compliment to me. According to the article Mircea Lucescu then stated" Fulham definitely had some luck and managed to take advantage of their chances but that doesn't mean that I don't appreciate Fulham's defensive strength." I have listened to many press conferences of Roy Hogdson. I have heard him complain about the officiating. However, I can't remember him giving backhanded compliments to the opposition. He usually is pretty complimentary to the other side in defeat.
This goes back to the title of my entry. I hate it when a team says "We shouldn't have lost the game. Shakhtar did lose this match. I don't care that they play beautiful football. They do play a great style of football. It didn't matter last night. The better team won last night period. Take your defeat and see if you can beat Roy Hogdson's team in the Ukraine. I tell you one thing Shakhtar better go back to practice and learn how to be more physical. If they don't, Fulham will move on in the Europa League. Just quit your "sour grapes and excuse making". Just come to play next Thursday and we will see who is the better club.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Big win for Fulham against Shakhtar Donetsk

Going into this match I thought a win tonight by Fulham would be huge for their confidence. Their is no question that the priority for this season is the league and the F A Cup. Anything more they can do in the Europa League is a bonus. With this win now Fulham are playing with "house money". It will be a very tough task to win in the Ukraine next week. However, I wouldn't bet against Fulham finding away to move ahead in the Europa League.

Shakhtar Donetsk are a very gifted team. I left watching the match very impressed by this Ukranian club. I think that is what makes this victory even more significant. The most talented and skilled team doesn't always win. Sometimes it is a lucky bounce or a shot of the ball. Tonight though I will call this a victory by a team that is disciplined and found a way to win.

Fulham actually came flying out of the gate. In the first few minutes Fulham dominated. Danny Murphy sent a free kick in the first minute right to Brede Hangeland. He headed the ball, and almost got it past the goalkeeper Andriy Pyatov. The goalkeeper made a nice save.

In the 3rd minute Danny Murphy found Bobby Zamora who passed the ball to Zoltan Gera. He then scored the first goal of the game. This action was very early into the match. Shakhtar Donetsk at this point had not gotten there feet wet yet.

After about the first 10 minutes Shakhtar Donetsk started to settle in. They were starting to control the ball and the game was starting to be played in Fulham's half. In the 13th minute, Shakhtar Donetsk's first threat of the match came. Brede Hangeland had a ball taken away from him by Fernandinho. He tried a pass that was blocked by Aaron Hughes. Fulham dodged a bullet there, but you could tell the tone of the match was changing. A little later in the 31st minute Darijo Srna took a strong right footed shot that just went wide of the net.

The momentum and play at this point was with the Ukranian team. You could see that equalizing goal coming. In the 32nd minute Luiz Adriano was sent a ball through from Darijo Srna. He got by Stephen Kelly and put the ball past Schwarzer. The game was now tied 1 - 1.

There was another good chance by Fulham later in the half. Simon Davies tried to head in a great ball from Damien Duff. Unfortunately for Davies his header was slightly wide of the net.
The half ended 1 - 1 , but Shakhtar Donetsk controlled the majority of the half.

There was a completely different tone to the second half. Fulham started to control more of the ball in the opening several minutes. This led to the 63rd minute of the match. Brede Hangeland sent a pass to Zoltan Gera. He made a great touch pass to Bobby Zamora. He then scored on a booming right footed shot that got by the goalkeeper. The shot went right to the top corner and the keeper didn't have a chance. Fulham were now up 2 - 1.

Bobby Zamora wasn't done being dominant tonight. In the 70th minute off of a free kick from Danny Murphy, Bobby Zamora's header went just wide. This was a major chance for Fulham to go up 2 goals.

After that moment Shakhtar Donetsk started to increase the pressure again. They were in the Fulham half for a good portion of the last 20 minutes of the match. Fulham's defense was strong to hold off the pressure. The best and last chance for the Ukranian team came in stoppage time. Mark Schwarzer made a beautiful save off of a shot from Fernandinho. This saved secured the victory for Fulham. The game ended 2 - 1 in favor of Fulham.

Whatever happens next week in the Ukraine, Fulham players and the fans should be proud of the victory tonight. It is the type of game you can build on. Just remember only 2 years ago Fulham were in a relegation battle. Tonight they beat a team that won the UEFA Cup last season. I would call that some serious progress.

I want Deion Branch back with the New England Patriots

When Deion Branch was traded from the New England Patriots during the 2006 season it was a major blow to the team. You could argue if Deion Branch was on the team in 2006 he could have been a difference in the AFC Championship game that year. When I think about that particular game all I can say to myself is " Deion Branch wouldn't have dropped that pass in the second half." His chemistry with Tom Brady was very special.

Since he went to Seattle there is no question he is not the player he used to be with the New England Patriots. He has been injured fairly often. Also, the style of offense in Seattle might not have been the best fit for his skill set.

You might be asking why I am bringing up all of the old memories. Karen Guregian has a very interesting article on Deion Branch on which was quoted from on Guregian asked Branch questions about the possibility of being traded or released. The discussion of the New England Patriots came up in this article as well.

According to Guregian's Boston Herald article which is quoted on, Deion Branch stated, "You know what, I talk to the guys all the time. I never wanted to leave, either."Branch went on to tell Karen Guregian of the Boston Herald which is quoted on, " We just couldn't get the contractual part down. We just couldn't come to an agreement. And that stuff happens.... I still love coach Belichick, and if the opportunity presents itself to come back, I would love to be there. These entire quotes come from Karen Guregian of the Boston Herald and quoted from

I am hoping the New England Patriots management saw this article today. I also hope they contact Seattle regarding a trade for Deion Branch. He would be a fantastic number 2 or number 3 receiver with the Pats. Based on the quotes he is not against coming back. I want Deion Branch back with the New England Patriots.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

I am not buying the interest of Julius Peppers by the New England Patriots

This is the crazy time in the NFL and the media is desperate for stories. For example, how does Sebastian Janikowski signing a contract with the Oakland Raiders become a story involving the New England Patriots? It is a story when Bianca Wilfork tweets and comments about the kicker being signed. Are you kidding me? This is a story that is in print and on television. I also read online that it is being reported by Chris Mortensen that San Diego might be shopping Antonio Cromartie. I next read on a messageboard by a fan of the New England Patriots wondering if the Pats could trade Laurence Maroney for Antonio Cromartie. These rumors drive me crazy. Maybe 1 out of 100 actually happens.

The latest rumor I am just not buying again for another year. A year ago Vic Carucci of stated that the New England Patriots were interested in trading for Julius Peppers once he signed his franchise tag. Obviously this deal never happened.

Now today Carucci is writing on once again about interest of the New England Patriots in Julius Peppers. Pat Kirwan also on in a Live Chat with fans on Monday also suggested the New England Patriots have interest in Peppers. I am sorry I don't buy it this time.

Julius Peppers to me makes no sense right now for the New England Patriots. They need to re-sign Vince Wilfork and Tom Brady before they do anything else. They also have several other of there own free agents they need to take care of. I know there is no cap now , but do you really think the New England Patriots are going to sign Julius Peppers, Vince Wilfork and Tom Brady all to long term deals? It is not going to happen.

What is going on is the media especially in Boston is the need for a story. The New England Patriots don't tell them anything. So instead of finding real stories they latch on to story about Bianca Wilfork tweeting about a kicker and Julius Peppers having interest by the New England Patriots. This is the same story from a year ago that never happened. Again, I am not buying it this year.

5 Reasons Why I Think Fulham Can Conquer America

This entry is in response to the great article I just read on The article on is entitled " 5 Reasons Why Manchester City Can Conquer America". The writer discusses that Manchester City are considering a preseason tour of the United States. The writer mentions this could be an opportunity for Manchester City to become popular in the U.S. He then breaks down the 5 reasons why Manchester City can conquer America. The writer makes a very good argument for Manchester City in the U.S. Below I am going to give you the" 5 Reasons Why I think Fulham can Conquer America." If you want to read the reasons for Manchester City here is a link to the article. I think Roy Hogdson and Fulham have the potential to grow its fanbase in America. Please read below the link to see my reason for Fulham.

1. Americans love a great manager of a club. In American football, baseball, basketball and hockey the manager or coach is under the microscope of the fans of their teams. For example I will use Bill Belichick the Head Coach of the New England Patriots. In my opinion he might be the greatest coach in NFL history. He is constantly under scrutiny and is a polarizing figure. Belichick though is a 3 time Super Bowl champion ,who whether "you like him or hate him" has the respect of the media and the fans as a great head coach. As a fan I know the Patriots are always going to be well prepared and be put in the best situation to win. Roy Hogdson has put his club in the best position to win every week. As a fan their is not more than you can ask from your manager. I think Americans would be intrigued by Hogdson's history with the team and how he dug them out of possibly being relegated in 2007 - 2008 season. They will also appreciate how he started to rebuild Fulham on defense. Americans love a team that plays strong defense in any sport I would argue. It is a major key to victory. What also makes Hogdson appealing is his personality. In interviews and during games the man seems under control and confident. Roy would be a huge hit in America.

2. Fielding a strong international squad. As stated in the article America is a melting pot of many nations. What is great about Fulham is that the team like the EPL in general have an international makeup to its squad. The strikers are Bobby Zamora fom England and David Elm from Sweden. In the midfield you have Damien Duff from Ireland, Danny Murphy from England, Clint Dempsey from the United States, and Dickson Etuhu from Nigeria. In the back on defense you have Chris Baird from Northern Ireland, John Pantsil from Ghana, Brede Hangeland from Norway, and Aaron Hughes from Northern Ireland. Finally you have Mark Schwarzer in goal from Australia. Americans tend to be attracted to players they can relate to. The makeup of this team has someone for every fan.

3. Americans love to get behind the underdog. I think Americans like to get behind a team that doesn't have all the money in the world to spend on players. I think Americans are attracted to teams that have a strong work ethic and have to try harder to work with what they have. A team like Fulham reminds me of the 2001 New England Patriots. They did not have the most talent, but they played together as a team. Another team I would compare them to is the Minnesota Twins in baseball. This team does not have a huge payroll, but year after year they field a team that contends for their division. I think Fulham can be a team that contends for a Europa League spot consistently each year. They are not going to be a Champions League Team. I know if Americans watched Fulham beat Manchester United earlier this year they would be hooked on this team. The underdog beat one of the best teams in the world. Americans definitely would be behind a team like Fulham.

4. An American Player on the team and a past that has had several Americans on the squad. This goes back to the melting pot theory. Americans can relate to a team that has one of their own on it. Clint Dempsey is a very good player for Fulham. He is I would say a star on the U.S. World Cup Team. As we go into the summer many Americans will be watching the World Cup. Since Clint Dempsey plays for Fulham it will give fans a chance to see a prominent Fulham player. This could very well attract new fans to the club.

5. Fulham selected Fenway Sports Group as exclusive North American Agency. The Fenway Sports Group I have written a few months back about. This sports marketing agency could be a huge help with the growth of Fulham. Their main responsibility is finding corporate sponsorships including on the jersey for the 2010 - 2011 season. This organization is closely affiliated with the Boston Red Sox. The Red Sox have to be considered one of the best marketers of there brand in American Sports. This marketing has helped the Red Sox funnel money to pay for players. There is no question that marketing has had a huge positive effect on the Boston Red Sox. The result is they have won 2 World Series titles in the last 6 years. I think this firm could potentially help market Fulham better and build its brand. This could help the team have more money to spend on players.

I think these are 5 very good reasons why Fulham could become a favorite in the United States. I do think at some point they need to plan a summer preseason trip to America again. Seeing the team in person would definitely help build fan interest as well. They did come several years ago for a summer trip.

Maybe you don't think it is important for a team to breakthrough in America? I certainly can see that. If you are a fan of Fulham you want to see them compete every year in the EPL. The more fans of the team can mean more money which can be used to upgrade the team. I am of the mindset the more fans the better wherever they come from.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

UEFA Cup holders very confident coming to Craven Cottage to play Fulham

Shakhtar Donetsk won the 2009 UEFA Cup against Werder Bremen 2 -1 last season. They come to play Fulham at Craven Cottage this Thursday Night at 8:05PM UK time and 3:05 EST. This is the first leg of the Round of 32 in the Europa League. The second leg will be played the following Thursday at home to Shakhtar Donetsk. This Ukranian club is definitely going to be a huge challenge for Fulham.

Shakhtar Donetsk finished their league last year in second place. They currently sit second in the Ukrainian Premier League. They are 2 points behind Dynamo Kiev halfway through their season. What is interesting is they have not played a league game since mid December. The Ukranian Premier League has a winter break. The team should be fairly fresh to face Roy Hogdson's Fulham squad.

The Ukrainian team actually has been training in England. According to the club's official website the team went to the F A Cup match that Roy Hogdson's Cottagers played on Sunday against Notts County. The article has some thoughts on Craven Cottage and also that some of the players were recognized in the crowd.

The article from the Press Office of FC Shakhtar on the official website also has some interesting thoughts on Fulham. According to the Press office of FC Shakhtar states " By and large the Shakhtar players agreed that our future rival hasn't amazed us by anything special. To play against them is possible,very possible. Of course, we shouldn't play relaxed and should concetrate fully." The article by the Press office of FC Shakhtar continues to go on and has some praise for Bobby Zamora and Fulham's defenders. Finally, According to the Press office of FC Shakhtar also has praise for the fans.

Based on the official website of Shakhtar Donetsk, it sounds like to me the Ukranian team is very confident going into the Europa league match. I am fine with Fulham playing a team that believes they should win. If Fulham want to move forward in the Europa League why not take on the champion. I am sure Bobby Zamora and the rest of the team are looking forward to playing this game. If Fulham win in the round of 32 it should give them more confidence heading into the last part of the season.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Why can't Fulham get players like that?

If you are from Boston you might remember the annoying phrase former Channel 4 Sportscaster Bob Lobel would say about players that left Boston. When Jonny Damon left to go to the Yankees he would show highlights of him and say "Why can't we get players like that?" This was Lobel's way of saying he wishes that player was still with a Boston team. I can't tell you how much that phrase ticked me off. How ironic is it that I will be using this phrase to describe a former Fulham player.

Diomansy Kamara left on loan February 1st from Fulham to Celtic. I am a fan of Diomansy and was disappointed by the loan move. I really didn't understand why Roy Hogdson would allow this to happen. We had some injuries with our strikers and to let one of them go on loan did not make sense to me. Shortly after the loan deal was complete it was revealed that Andrew Johnson would be out for the rest of the season. This would leave Fulham short on strikers.

Kamara I have fond memories of him during the relegation battle in the 2007 - 2008 season. He scored 2 crucial goals against Manchester City that definitely helped Fulham stay up in the Premier League. He was often injured, but when he did play he usually made some kind of impact. I noticed his impact even in the Europa League recently. I thought teaming him up with Bobby Zamora would give Fulham 2 strikers that could compliment each other. I could see the potential for better chemistry with Bobby Zamora than the combo of him with Andrew Johnson.

This discussion brings us to what Kamara has done with Celtic since leaving Fulham. On February 7th, Kamara scored his first goal with Celtic in the Scottish Cup against Dunfermline. He added his first league goal on February 13th against Aberdeen. In only a few weeks with Celtic, Kamara has scored 2 goals. Not bad for a player that hasn't had much action this year for Fulham. I will leave you with this question. " Why can't Fulham get players like that?"

Later this week I will have a preview for Fulham's Europa League clash with Shakhtar Donetsk. This should be an interesting game for Fulham. I will be curious to see what kind of team Roy Hogdson puts on the pitch in this matchup.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Fulham take care of Notts County 4 - 0 in F A Cup

Fulham in the first half started out sluggish. In fact the announcers kept mentioning they could not tell who was the Premiership club and who was the League Two team. Notts County were winning in the midfield early in the match. They were making more of the clean passes. Fulham were more kicking long balls to the strikers up front.

The game changed in the 22nd minute with a goal from Simon Davies. It was a right footed shot from a nice pass from Danny Murphy. The shot got by Notts County Goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel.

Fulham almost went up 2 goals with a nice run by Damien Duff. This led to a strong shot off of his left foot. A nice save was made by Schmeichel to keep the game 1 - 0. A couple of decent shots came after that from Bobby Zamora and Dickson Etuhu.

Notts County had one of their best chances in the 39th minute from a shot by Craig Wescarr. It was a nice save by Mark Schwarzer to keep the game 1 - 0.

The second goal of the game came from a wonderful flick by David Elm right to the foot of Bobby Zamora. Zamora then made a left footed shot that got by the keeper. Fulham were up 2- 0 at the half.

The second half began with Notts County again coming out strong. In the 50th minute Ben Davies took a nice shot that just slightly missed the net. A little later a shot by Lee Hughes was right on net but saved by Schwarzer.

The best chance early in the second half was by Nicky Shorey off of a set piece. Unfortunately for Shorey his shot sailed high over the net. As the half went on Fulham were starting to control the play more.

In the 73rd minute Damien Duff made it 3 - 0. It was a low left footed shot in the penalty area. This goal made the game comfortable at this point. Roy Hogdson decided to put in Jonathan Greening, Bjorn Helge Riise, and Stefano Okaka as substitutes. This was an indication that possibly Hogdson wanted some rest for Danny Murphy, Damien Duff and Bobby Zamora.

In the 79th minute Stefano Okaka scored his first goal for Fulham. This was a right foot shot that got into the net. The score then became 4 - 0 in favor of Fulham. He got behind the defenders and made a nice low shot to score the goal.

This was a game that the score does not show how tough Notts County played. In the end though Fulham showed who was the Premiership Club and who was the Division 2 squad. It is now on to the next round of the F A Cup.

Bill Polian's influence on the change in the game

In my mind the 2003 AFC Championship Game between the New England Patriots and the Indianapolis Colts has to be one of the greatest games in Pats history. It is also the game that I believe indirectly changed football today. This was a game that the Pats shut down Peyton Manning and his high powered offense.

The defensive backs hit the receivers hard throughout this game. They were in their face at the line of scrimmage and when they caught the ball the hits kept coming. I actually remember a hit by Rodney Harrison hitting Marvin Harrison which caused a fumble. Ty Law had 3 interceptions in this game and Peyton Manning looked totally confused. Up to this game Peyton Manning had been lighting it up in the playoffs against the Broncos and the Chiefs. This style of defense was aggressive and was the trademark of the New England Patriots dynasty.

After the game I started to hear complaints from the Colts about how the Patriots were making hits that were illegal . Bill Polian was front and center complaining about the Pats. To me looking for excuses is bad sportsmanship. The Colts needed to look at themselves and admit the better team won that Sunday.

Instead Bill Polian and Tony Dungy made sure with the competition committee that the "10 yard rule of defensive holding" would become a point of emphasis moving forward. You could still hit a receiver at the line of scrimmage and you had 10 yards to stop hitting him. The problem here is that defensive backs since this emphasis have become less aggressive at the line and in the field of play. In my opinion this emphasis has changed how defenses defend the pass. To me they are more worried about the flag than hitting the receiver.

The result has been more wide open offenses like the Colts being even more effective. If you look at the teams in the Super Bowl they are both led by their offenses. What happened to the dominant defenses? Right now they do not exist.

Has this "point of emphasis" benefited Peyton Manning and the Colts? In my opinion they have and it has changed football as we know it. It used to be "defense wins championships". Now it is the best offense wins championships. The Patriots changed their makeup I think for the worse when they decided to become a passing team in the 2007 season. The Pats to me thought "if we can't beat them we might as well join them. " The team that won 3 Lombardi trophies is not built around defense anymore. It has been built around offense.

It all goes back to an AFC Championship game when a general manager decided his team was cheated out of a victory. He was going to make sure the rules were going to change. Bill Polian and the rest of the competition committee certainly changed football forever. My question though is the game better now? I certainly don't think so.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Fulham play Sunday in the FA Cup at Craven Cottage

The next game for Fulham is this Sunday February 14th, at 3PM UK Time and 10AM EST. The game will be home at Craven Cottage. The opponent on Sunday is League Two Team Notts County. A win on Sunday will put Fulham into the quarterfinals of the tournament.

According to there is a good chance we will see a similar lineup for the team that they used against Burnley. Roy Hodgson gave a quote about the starting team. Hogdson said " There is no reason for me to envisage great changes to the Team, certainly for the game on Sunday." Also, according to, Zoltan Gera and Paul Konchesky have come back to training. This is a good sign for Fulham.

After the FA Cup match on Sunday, Fulham play on Thursday February 18th in the Europa League at 8:05PM UK Time and 3:05PM EST. The game is against Shakhtar Donetsk at Craven Cottage. This should hopefully be a good week of football for Roy Hogdson and Fulham.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

The Vince Wilfork contract situation with the New England Patriots

Last year before the season began their was a great deal of media speculation regarding the contract situation of Vince Wilfork. Vince never held out and showed up for training camp on time. He actually played out his entire rookie 6 year agreement. The next situation for Vince Wilfork is will the New England Patriots franchise him? Starting today the team has the ability to put the franchise tag on Vince Wilfork.

I have been hearing speculation that Vince might have been offered a new contract with the New England Patriots before last season began. Gary Tanguay stated on his show on Comcast Sports Net the other night he had heard that Wilfork was offered a contract around 20 million plus guaranteed. In his column entitled " Will Patriots play tag with Wilfork?" Tom E. Curran on CSNNE.COM wrote that he had heard whispers that last August the Patriots were offering $20 million guaranteed and the negotiations ran aground.

I called into the radio show with Andy Gresh on 98.5 the Sports Hub. I asked him if he had heard anything regarding The New England Patriots offering Vince Wilfork a new contract. Andy mentioned that he had heard the New England Patriots and Vince Wilfork were close to a new contract agreement at one point. He believed that this offer happened before the last season began. He then said "Something happened and it blew up".

I would hope that both sides could come back to the table and work something out that benefited both parties. I believe if the New England Patriots franchise Vince Wilfork the situation will only get worse. I will be monitoring this issue closely.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

David Elm breaks through with first goal in Fulham victory

David Elm was the last summer transfer to be added for Fulham for the season. He is 6ft. and 3 inches tall. He looks tall and a little lanky up front. I remember reading more about his brother Rasmus Elm as a very good prospect for Fulham. Rasmus is 21 and ended up going to AZ in the Netherlands.

I had been waiting for months to see Elm get a shot with the first team at Fulham. My thought was if Roy Hogdson signed him at some point he needed to play at Craven Cottage. In the F A Cup against Accrington Stanley I watched him play. I thought he might have a decent first touch as he made some nice passes. I knew I needed to see how he would react in the Premier League.

In Fulham's loss to Aston Villa I thought David Elm showed good effort and hustle. He almost scored his first goal against Aston Villa, but he was offsides when he shot the ball into the net. The Aston Villa game was a horrible loss for Fulham. The team looked out of sorts, but Elm seemed to be one of the only bright spots.

Move forward to last night at Craven Cottage against Burnley. David Elm in the 23rd minute headed a pass to Danny Murphy who scored the first goal of the game. It did look like he was offsides but he was not flagged for it. Next, later in the first half Bobby Zamora's shot was deflected off of the goalkeeper. David Elm was right there to kick and score his first goal in the Premier League.

I think time is needed until the end of the season to make a complete judgement on David Elm. His contract is up with Fulham this summer. According to Sky Sports there is an option for both sides to agree on a 2 year extension. We should have all the answers we need by May.